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Baylor Magazine || The Thrill Of The Chase
I had to put my time in to study it," says DaCunha, a math postdoctoral Fellow who successfully defended his dissertation on dynamic equations on time scales at Baylor last spring."I enjoy mathematics.It takes you away for a while when you get really caught up in it." DaCunha completed a bachelor's degree in math with a minor in computer science at Baylor in 2000.He earned a master's degree with a concentration in abstract algebra and then stayed for his doctoral work, becoming the first person to take and complete at Baylor the doctoral program in mathematics, which began in 2001.He received his PhD in mathematics with a specialization in differential equations in August. It was more than academics that convinced John Davis, assistant professor of mathematics, that DaCunha would be a good fit for the program.
...I saw that in him, that enthusiasm and the thrill of the chase when you're onto a big theorem," says Davis, who was DaCunha's PhD adviser.
Since the new program started, interest in it has grown each year but as the first to go all the way through it, DaCunha
often had undivided attention."I went through the program alone, so it was kind of tailored.They are making it very challenging, which is good," he
says.This year, there are about eight people enrolled.
DaCunha's dissertation topic evolved from research he
began during his
first year in the program.
At a conference in Arizona, DaCunha
made a connection that led to his
receiving the prestigious Davies Fellowship with a teaching component at the U.S. Military Academy
in West Point, N.Y., this fall.He
had dropped a résumé in the Academy's conference mailbox and the next morning, West Point recruiters asked DaCunha
area of research.Soon after, he
received the offer for the Fellowship, a program started in the mid-1990s and funded by the National Research Council
.As part of the contract, he will teach three classes at West Point and conduct research at the Army Research Lab in Maryland, which will lead to future work on military projects such as unmanned autonomous vehicles.
"The Army and all the branches of the military are coming out with these robotic planes that are flying themselves.We're trying to use our new mathematical theory to improve on these systems," he
, who was a part of Baylor's
track team for five years and continued to train with them until this summer, also will have a chance to run with the military cadets, an opportunity he
looks forward to almost as much as teaching them calculus.Since he graduated with his master's degree, DaCunha has taught 24 classes at Baylor and a community college in Waco.
"As far as the lifestyle a professor has," he
says, "I don't think it can be beat."